Vale, Komatsu & Cummins announce collaboration to develop dual fuel large trucks

Vale and Komatsu have signed a pioneering agreement to develop and test, in partnership with Cummins, dual fuel haul trucks, powered by a mixture of ethanol and diesel. They will be the world’s first trucks of their size, with payloads of 230 to 290 tons, to run on ethanol, in a joint investment in research and development that demonstrates the commitment of all three companies to advancing sustainability in the mining industry.

The Dual Fuel Program will contribute to the achievement of Vale’s goals of reducing scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions (direct and indirect) by 33% by 2030 and becoming net-zero by 2050.

The program is a recognition of the necessity to reduce carbon emissions in mining operations. Its goals is to convert existing diesel engines in haul trucks to run on a mix of ethanol and diesel, thus making it considerably more sustainable. The retrofitted trucks will be capable of using up to 70% ethanol and reducing direct CO2 emissions by up to 70%.

“Removing a fossil fuel like diesel from our mine operations is fundamental to achieving our decarbonisation targets,” said José Baltazar, Engineering Director for Mine and Plant Operations at Vale. “Applying the solution to the existing fleet, without the need to immediately purchase new trucks, is an excellent way to move forward with the decarbonisation process, while also maintaining our focus on reliability and production efficiency.”

“We are constantly developing and testing solutions to achieve our carbon reduction targets by 2030. This partnership will go a long way in reaching our collective goals,” said Benjamin Stear, EDT Product Manager at Komatsu. “We look forward to partnering with our customers through the DF change management process while maintaining productive operations to reach our emission reduction goals.”

Over the next two years, the project is anticipated to include the development, testing and implementation of ethanol-diesel engines manufactured by Cummins. Luke Mosier, Mining Product Planning & Strategy Manager at Cummins, highlighted: “Komatsu and Vale are two organisations that share Cummins’ commitment to innovation and accelerating carbon footprint reductions. It will be fantastic to contribute our internal combustion engine expertise on this project that will see further advancement of future ready technology.”

Diesel emissions from mine operations account for 15% of Vale’s direct CO2 emissions. Among mine equipment, the haul truck is the biggest consumer of diesel and therefore the biggest emitter. The decision to develop an ethanol-based solution is driven by its availability within existing supplier networks and high adoption rate in Brazil.

“We have to take advantage of Brazil’s competitive edge in biofuels, since we are one of the world’s largest ethanol producers,” says Ludmila Nascimento, Energy and Decarbonisation Director at Vale. “With this partnership, we can reduce our direct emissions by 2030 with a competitive solution, and also contribute to strengthening this low-emission industry in Brazil.”